Men tend to ignore subtle symptoms that their health is in trouble. Black men might be even more likely to take health changes in stride because of cultural beliefs and expectations. That’s a bad idea because Black men can be prone to certain illnesses more than other ethnicities. Here are 10 symptoms Black men should never ignore.
1. Unexplained Weight Changes
Unless you’re definitely trying to lose or gain weight, significant changes in weight should never be ignored. Unintended weight loss may be an indication of serious illnesses such as diabetes, congestive heart failure, and cancer. Weight gain, on the other hand, could indicate issues with the heart, digestive system, or thyroid.
As a Black man, it’s important to pay attention to these changes because studies show that Black Americans continue to be more at risk for the illnesses listed above.
2. Persistent Itching
While a persistent itch could be a simple irritation that a dermatologist can address, it can also be a sign of something much worse. In some cases, an itch that won’t go away can indicate a type of cancer, such as lymphoma or myeloma, or diabetes.
This is especially important to note for Black men as diabetes continues to be a troubling health issue for them. Skin cancer might not occur as often as other forms of cancer but health professionals are still concerned because it’s often diagnosed in the very late stages of the disease.
3. Pain in the Jaw
Feeling pain in the jaw is one of the little-known signs of a heart attack or chronic heart disease. This diagnosis is more likely if the pain occurs during an activity but goes away while resting. If you feel pain in your jaw along with numbness, neck pain, pressure in the chest, or other signs of a heart attack, you need to see a doctor quickly.
As a Black man, you’re already more likely to develop heart-related issues. Ignoring any signs of heart disease is a bad idea.
4. Yellowish Eyes
Jaundice typically presents as a yellowing in the white portion of the eyes. It shows that there is too much bilirubin in the blood, which suggests a problem with the liver. In some cases, jaundice can be one of the signs of pancreatic cancer.
According to recent health statistics, Black men are up to 60% more likely to have liver cancer than other ethnicities. While pancreatic cancer is not high on the list of cancers that affect Black Americans, it’s still a valid concern.
5. Unexplained Bruising
Anyone can experience bruising, especially if they live a highly active lifestyle. However, if you’re seeing unexplained bruising or bruising in strange areas like your fingers, it’s time to see a doctor.
This kind of bruising can be a sign of a blood disorder such as sickle cell disease. or certain cancers like leukemia. It’s essential to look out for the former illness as sickle cell disease can affect up to one in every 500 Black American.
6. Having Trouble Swallowing
The potential illnesses that can make it difficult to swallow range in their severity. It could be acid reflux disease, an allergic reaction, or even esophageal cancer. If you’re having acid reflux regularly, health professionals warn that it could also increase your likelihood of developing precancerous conditions in the esophagus.
While there’s no indication that Black men are more at risk than other ethnicities, this symptom is one that many men are likely to ignore so keep an eye out for it.
7. Change in Bowel Movements
Health professionals encourage men to pay attention to any changes in their bowel movements. If you have fewer or more bowel movements than normal for an extended period, it’s best to see a doctor. Any signs of bleeding or feeling no relief after going to the bathroom could mean that you have colon cancer.
Black men, in particular, need to be careful because studies have shown that they are not only more like to develop colon cancer, but also likely to have a late-stage diagnosis.
8. Trouble With Urinating
When combined with erectile dysfunction or blood in the urine, trouble urinating can be a sign of prostate cancer. According to recent health statistics, Black men are experiencing higher rates of prostate-related issues, including cancer.
Even if you’re not experiencing all the symptoms of prostate cancer, getting the issue checked out is highly recommended.
9. A Change in Moles
Men in general are more likely to develop skin cancer because they don’t usually wear sunscreen or use protective measures. They’re also unlikely to pay attention to changes in their moles. As mentioned previously, Black men, in particular, have shown a tendency to get diagnosed at a very late stage.
If you have moles, look out for irregular edges, changes in size, shape, or color, as well as changing appearance over time. It’s also never too late to start wearing sunscreen.
10. Not Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
Whether you’re sleeping too little or too much, your health could be in trouble. Both symptoms have been linked to illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and strokes. In many cases, sleep issues are caused by disorders such as depression or sleep apnea.
According to sleep studies, Black Americans are more likely to be affected by sleep apnea, which has been shown to have a significantly negative impact on health. If you’re having trouble sleeping or sleeping more than 9 hours per night, it’s best to see a doctor.
Many men ignore small symptoms until they become more pronounced or are joined by a variety of others. If you’re having any of these symptoms or have noticed even small changes in your body, seeing a doctor is always the safest course of action.